Lean Management Systems


A3 Report Template

A3 Template to apply A3 thinking and the Lean A3 Problem Solving Method

A3 Report

Download your free A3 template

which is not just a trial,
but is a gift

that you can use
for the rest of your career

The A3 template is one of the most popular tools in your lean tool kit.

Types of A3 Reports

This same A3 template can be used in MANY diverse ways:

A3 Problem Solving

The most common way to use your A3 template is for A3 Problem Solving

(as explained in the training lower this page)

A3 Decision Making

No matter which decision making tools and methods you use,

your A3 template provides a ideal way to "tell your story"
of what problems were faced, what options were considered, and why you made your choice.

Three More Types of A3 Storyboards


Every lean tool needs
a corresponding
Lean Coaching System

The Proposal A3

to introduce opportunities and possible ways to capitalize on them

A3 as a Team Charter

An A3 Report is a popular choice to serve as a Team Charter

because it so clearly "tells the story"
of why your team was formed, and what is has accomplished

The Status A3

No matter which lean management system you are using,
your A3 template provides an effective way to provide periodic progress reports.

To see examples of many diverse types of A3 Reports — refer to the books in our Suggested Reading.

Lean A3 Template

The A3 Report is a simple storyboard that tells the whole story of an improvement event on one large sheet of paper.

(The international A3 paper size is 297 x 420 millimeters. In the United States, 11 x 17 inch paper is used.)


The left side defines the problem — the right side proposes solutions

A3 template A3 report

Sample A3 Report example. Download your free A3 template


Word > View > 2 Pages

A good A3 should tell a story — bringing a problem to life and pointing the way to a better future.


Excel Tip: View > Two Pages

How to use your A3 Template

Find and open your template

Systems2win menu > Systems2win templates

Find and open your A3 Report template (A3Report.docx)
in the same way that you find and open your other 150+ Systems2win templates.

Note: Even though this is a Word template,
you open it using your Systems2win menu in Excel

If your company does not yet own a license,
you can download your free A3 template now.

Save your working document, following the usual
document storage and naming conventions established by your leaders.

Your A3 template is a Word template

Even though most of your 150+ Systems2win templates are written using Microsoft Excel,
we decided to make this a Word template.

Familiar Microsoft Word

Why? Because Microsoft Word provides unmatched flexibility
to allow wildly diverse formats.

and any experience lean professional who has ever seen more than a dozen A3 Reports knows that it is rare for any two to look alike

You can use everything you know about familiar Microsoft Word

And our Microsoft Word training
might teach you a few things that you didn't know that you didn't know

Obtain approval to begin your A3 project

Use your A3 Approvals template (A3Approvals.xlsx)

to identify decision makers and stakeholders

and to obtain the first column of approvals for 'Authorization to Begin This Project'

See training for your A3 Approvals template... (lower on this page)

On the Left Side of your A3 Report

Define the Problem

Replace the Title

Replace the Report Title at the top of the left page
with a succinct summary of the theme or challenge that is the purpose of this A3 Report.

How to use Form Fields in Microsoft Word

A3 Report - top section

Wherever you see any block of instructional text,

simply select that instructional text,
and replace it with your content.

Tip: In any Systems2win template,

text encased in brackets <like this>
is intended to be replaced with your own data.

Tip: To highlight form fields even more..

(with a grey background color, as shown in the illustration), see Microsoft Word training for Form Fields.

Replace the Revised Date and Author Name

A3 Reports are intended to change very rapidly.
Keep your Revised Date current.

Keep track of Approvals

On the same line next to Revised Date and Author Name,
there is a simple visual system to indicate when each of the 4 phases of A3 Approvals have been completed.

Simply enter an X next to the phase number
as each phase of approvals is completed.

And you can optionally edit the hyperlink on the link icon,

so that users of your A3 Report can instantly drill down
to see exactly who approved what
in the A3 Approvals document that corresponds with this A3 Report.

Your A3 Approval document is created using your A3 Approval template (A3Approvals.xlsx)

Background and Importance

This section is only needed if the Title does not sufficiently define the problem, and why change is needed.

Current Conditions

Go to the gemba to observe for yourself what is actually happening.

A3 Gemba Interview template


Perhaps use your A3 Gemba Interview template.

Perhaps use one your Process Observation templates and techniques.

Perhaps just observe and ask questions.

Always bring a printed copy of your (ever-changing) A3 Report on a clipboard.


Hand write what you observe and discuss at the gemba.

Then later, back in your office...

transcribe (and clarify) your hand written notes
onto your (electronic) master A3 Storyboard.


Print. Observe & discuss. Clean up. Repeat.

See training for how to set up your printer

Then use graphs, numbers, and facts
to clearly depict the As Is state in a way that invites analytic questions.

Common tools for illustrating

A3 Report Current and Desired Conditions

A3 Illustrator

Stick Figure Illustrator

Flowchart template

Flow charts

Layout Diagram template

Layout Diagram

Yamazumi Chart

Work Load Balancing

Excel charts

Any type of
Excel Charts

Any other drawing

Anything you can
draw with Excel

Learn several easy ways to copy screen shots to your A3 Storyboards

Perhaps use Hyperlinks in your A3 Report

On an A3 size sheet of paper, there is very little room to tell a complex story.

One popular way to provide more details
is to use a small illustration of highly summarized data,
and then provide a hyperlink to allow users to drill down to the detailed source documents.

Value Stream Map


Or you might show an (almost unreadable) thumbnail,
with a link to the document.

Which is pretty much the only way
to reference a Value Stream Map from an A3 Report

Root Cause Analysis

Root cause fishbone diagram

Go back to the gemba. Keep asking "why?"

What are the root causes for problems?

Then succinctly summarize Root Causes in this section of your A3 Report.

Perhaps link to the Root Cause Fishbone Diagram that your team used >>>>>

Goals and Targets

What specific outcomes are desired?

Don't write, but be prepared to answer: "Why these goals & these targets?"

Obtain Approvals

Use your A3 Approvals document to obtain approvals from all identified decision makers and stakeholders

to ensure that everyone agrees that you have thoroughly clarified the problem and its root causes.

Don't jump to solutions

Perhaps the single most important reason for the existence of the A3 Problem Solving Method is to avoid jumping to proposed solutions before thoroughly defining the root problems.

Do not touch a single pencil mark on the right side of your A3 Report
until you have obtained all approvals that you have completed Phase2: Problem Analysis.

On the Right Side of your A3 Report

upward trend chart

Propose Countermeasures

Target Condition

Use this section of the A3 Report to clearly depict the Desired state
and the gap between current & desired.

It is always best to use illustrations, not just words,
to activate the intuitive, creative, problem solving side of the brain.


Again... go to the gemba.

Ask everyone for their ideas for proposed actions to prevent recurrence of each root cause.

Let them watch you hand write their ideas on a printed copy of your (ever-changing) A3 Report.

Due to limited space, not every idea will remain on the final version of your A3, but

your goal at this stage is to honestly listen to every stakeholder's ideas
and to ensure that they feel that their ideas have been honestly heard

And then, once everyone's ideas have been heard and expanded upon...

Take time to pause, ponder, reflect, and think.

It would be such a waste to go through all of this effort of the A3 Problem Solving Method

fumble football

only to fumble the ball on the 1 yard line because you skipped

the single most important step of the entire process


And then, once you and your team have taken time to reflect...

Use this section of the A3 Report to document
those proposed countermeasures that pass group evaluation.

Note: If you don't need the table, delete it.

This is your A3 Storyboard!

A3 template - countermeasures

Obtain Approvals

Before moving on to the 'Implementation Plan' section of your A3 Report,
you must first obtain all required approvals in the 'Countermeasures' column of your A3 Approvals form.

Implementation Plan

Again... the table is optional.

Perhaps replace it with a short summary of your implementation plan,
and a miniature summary image that might allow the user to drill down to your detailed plan.

Gantt Summary

Gantt Summary

Value Stream Plan

Value Stream Plan

To Do List

To Do List

Obtain Approvals

Before beginning to actually implement your 'Implementation Plan',
you must first obtain all required approvals in the 'Authorization to Implement' column of your A3 Approvals form.

PDCA Cycle

Effect Confirmation

After implementation...

the final 'Implementation Plan' section of your A3 Report
can optionally be replaced with an 'Effect Confirmation' section

with periodic measures to confirm that the countermeasures are yielding acceptable results

Use the 'Periodic Review' column of your A3 Approvals

If results are not acceptable,
then that should trigger a new PDCA cycle

You can copy and paste columns for additional Periodic Reviews
as many times as it takes until your 'Desired Target Conditions' become observable mensurable realities.

Bookmark = printer

Use your A3 template with any printer

The Systems2win A3 Report template can be used with ANY printer (or plotter).

Here's how to do it...

The standard template starts with two 8 1/2 x 11 pages
(or international paper size A4)

  • which is ideal for an A3 Report, because the right and left halves of the report serve distinctly different functions
  • and the two pages can be easily viewed and edited side-by-side
    using View > Print Layout > Multiple Pages

If all you have is a small printer...

  • Simply tape the 2 printed pages together
  • You can still create a PDF in 11x17 or A3 paper size

Simply select your PDF Writer as your printer
when you follow the instructions below

For a printer that is capable of printing 11x17 or A3 paper...

File > Print > Printer:

select a printer or PDF writer
capable of printing 11x17 or A3 paper

File > Print > Page Setup, or...

Page Setup icon

Word 2007: Page Layout Tab >
click the tiny icon

(circled in the picture)

  • Paper tab
    (see images to the right >>>)
    • Paper size: A3 or Tabloid 11x17
      Tip: your printer must support this paper size.
    • Apply to: Whole document
  • Margins tab
    (see images to the right >>>)
    • Orientation: Landscape
    • Multiple pages: 2 pages per sheet

If you have not yet installed free PDF writing software

The (vastly inferior) PDF writing feature that comes with Microsoft Office is not capable of printing 2 pages per sheet,
so you will need to either:

  1. Print 2 separate pages, or
  2. Follow or instructions to
    download and use free PDF writing software
Page Setup Paper tab
Page Setup Margins

Bookmark = approval

Lean A3 Approval System

Purpose of your A3 Approval template

Jim Womack coined the term "kanban democracy"

to describe how a well-designed A3 approval system
is able to systematically empower any motivated competent person
to quickly and efficiently obtain approval to become the champion
to lead an A3 problem solving project to conceive and implement countermeasures to a problem.

Your A3 Approvals template

A3 template

provides a clearly-defined repeatable visual system
to define approvals needed, obtained, and still missing
in a way that makes it easy to understand and follow the scientific method.

How to use your A3 Approval template

Find, open, and save

Find and open your A3 Approvals template (A3Approvals.xlsx)
the same way that you find and open every one of your other 150+ Systems2win templates.

Save it in the same folder with your A3 Report
following the same best practices that you always use for document storage and naming.

Identify Decision Makers and Stakeholders

Identify the people with authority to make final decisions for any proposed changes.

Identify all Stakeholders that might be affected. (groups and individuals)

Obtain approvals to Begin This Project

Work with the Mentor and primary decision-makers
to choose representatives for each affected stakeholder group.

Perhaps grey out cells if an approval is not required for every phase.

As demonstrated in the sample data on the Sample worksheet
for the HR Manager that does not want to participate in Periodic Reviews

A3 Report - top section

Obtain approvals at each stage

As you go through the 4 stages
of the A3 Problem Solving Process,
use this Approvals document to:

  1. formalize consensus
    that the root problems have been identified
  2. formalize consensus that all countermeasures have been sufficiently explored
  3. remind people of the participation they have had in the shared ownership of the proposed changes that will require everyone's commitment to implement.

As approvals are completed for each phase, also keep your A3 Report updated
with a brief summary of approvals needed and obtained.

Perform Periodic Reviews

After the initial implementation has been completed,
schedule the date for the first Periodic Review.

If results do not meet expectations,
keep scheduling Periodic Reviews until the desired results prove to be sustainable.


Process Analysis

It is okay to add short Comments,

but most comments should be documented
in the Process Analysis document associated with this project


which has a system for recording
much more detailed results of periodic reviews.

Bookmark = Method

The A3 Problem Solving Method

A3 thinking

Much more than just a tool, A3 Problem Solving is a simple method to systematically:

  1. Define and solve problems
  2. Teach managers how to better coach, mentor, and lead
  3. Instill a way of 'A3 thinking'

    that causes entire teams of people to sharply focus their minds
    on the foundational Lean ways of seeing process flows and wastes —
    constantly redirecting their attention back to the foundational Lean teachings:

    Internet icon Lean Objectives and Ideals

    Internet icon The Seven Deadly Types of Waste 

  4. Empower people to implement their great ideas

The A3 Problem Solving Method

(your way)

In addition to the standard training for how to use your A3 template, (above)

A3 Standard Operating Procedure template

your lean leaders are also encouraged to edit
your A3 Problem Solving Method template (A3SOP.docx)

which is designed to serve as an excellent starting point
to for your leaders to edit and revise
for your own A3 Problem Solving Method

and then publish and distribute that (personalized) PDF
to provide thorough guidance for how to do A3 Problem Solving
following your company's own unique policies.

Benefits of A3 Thinking

  • Provide a single, easy-to-use approach for solving ANY type of problem

    When everyone knows what someone means when they say "Let's do an A3", it frees people up to focus on the roots of problems — without needing to reinvent new ways of working together

  • Encourage people to identify problems   

    And bring attention to them,
    in contrast to hiding problems, or pretending that there aren't any

  • Stimulate group dialog and creative problem-solving

    Building consensus based on objective, indisputable observed facts,
    in contrast to one person trying to "sell" their half-baked ideas and subjective opinions.

  • Break people of the bad habit of jumping to solutions before defining root causes

    and the bad habit of being the heroic fire fighter, instead of preventing fires in the first place.

  • two bikers

    Not just templates.
    Not just training.

    But also systems
    that you won't outgrow

  • Empower the people closest to the work

    to share responsibility for improving their work,
    in contrast with top-down command and control
    that discourages workers from thinking and caring

  • Encourage managers to manage the means of production

    by truly understanding the dirty details,
    in contrast to the just-show-me-results Management By Objective approach
    that is popular with so many MBA schools

  • Instill an organizational culture of "learning to learn"

    Instilling more effective ways of thinking, working, and learning together,
    in contrast with just doing what you're told.

  • Groom new leaders in a scientifically repeatable way

    that actually demonstrate how to lead — and how to mentor their own people to also become new leaders

  • Provide a systematic logical thinking process

    teaching people to see, understand and synthesize cause and effect relationships
    in visual, succinct ways that anyone can understand at a glance

The PowerPoint alternative to a Status A3 Report


Process Improvement Tools
Should we make or buy?
Make or buy?

An A3 Status Report has several advantages over PowerPoint:

  1. The entire presentation is on one page — communicating faster and more holistically
  2. It forces a more concise and systematic thought process when preparing the report
  3. It is more easily archived and distributed —
    along with all other documents related to the project
    (usually in PDF format, which is readable to everyone)

As an alternative (or supplement) to an A3 Status Report,

many teams for Kaizen Events, Value Stream Events,
and other types of process improvement projects
will prefer to use their PowerPoint Presentation of Results template (eventResults.pptx)
which several advantages over an A3 Status Report.

Bookmark = Readings

Suggested Readings for A3 Thinking

To learn more about A3 management, and see many examples of A3 reports, we suggest the following books & resources:


More Suggested Reading

Download your free A3 Report template


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of this A3 Report template (not just a trial)

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to apply Lean A3 Thinking everywhere in your organization

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